As soon as I see little wild strawberries springing up in the yard, I start thinking about making a Strawberry Cobbler! Now, you know I love almost any kind of Cobbler, though in the Spring, it just seems festive to bake a fresh Strawberry Cobbler.
There was a Strawberry Pie, famous in the 60’s that was basically a pie crust, a thick glaze with big fresh strawberries and loads of whipped cream, that will always hold a sweet place in my heart, just like fruit cobblers evoke certain memories that are always good! Well, this Cobbler, is a bit different from the other cobblers I make, because it does have a glaze-y looking filling very similar to the aforementioned restaurant pie.
The difference is…when it’s baked, the glaze acts as a thickener and the strips of pastry act like dumplings- which gives it that juicy cobbler look- the glaze makes it richer gives the Strawberry Cobbler a brighter, prettier look! And…the sugary buttered pastry top- makes it pretty and gives more texture to the Cobbler!
Here’s how you make- Camellia’s Strawberry Cobbler…
A beautiful and easy spring dessert, filled with a thickened sauce and fresh strawberries- topped with a sugary crust! Perfect for any occasion! Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it’s a dream...
4CupsStrawberries Cut in chunks and slices
1 Pie CrustFor single crust
2CupsGranulated SugarDivided, plus more for topping
Hull and cut strawberries into slices and chunks, discarding ant bruised areas. Add 1 cup of sugar over the strawberries, set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat water, cornstarch and strawberry preserves whisking and bringing to a low boil,. Add 3/4-1 cup of strawberries , 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 stick of butter into the cornstarch mixture, lower heat and stir often until the mixture is thickened. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a square glass baking dish. Roll out pie crust, cutting the sides off to make a square roughly the size of the baking dish. If desired, with a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut a heart shape in center of crust. Working quickly, add fresh strawberries to cornstarch mixture and toss lightly to coat berries. Pour into prepared baking dish. Dot with butter. With the strips of pastry, mix into the berry mixture like ‘dumplings’. Taste mixture for sweetness, if needed, sprinkle more sugar over filling before topping with large square pastry, which has been buttered. * do not crimp pastry edges- it will cook freeform on top of the cobbler. Sprinkle pie crust with more sugar. Bake at 375degrees for 45- one hour. Allow to cool, filling will be very hot! Serve with a good quality ice cream, if desired. 6-8 generous servings.
Right now, grocers are beginning to get in the smaller spring strawberries- Look for them, they make almost every dessert extra special! Spring Strawberry Cobbler was on my list to test when I realized it was Pi Day too! Well, for all you mathematicians out there, in this case, Pi R are Square!
And… think you aren’t a math whiz? If you’re a baker, believe me you are! So, Happy Pi Day, from someone like me- who could eat pie every day! Especially, Strawberry Cobbler with a big ol’ scoop of ice cream!
I’ve said it before- the closer you live to a Tomato Vine, the better your life will be. As soon as the weather begins to warm up, southerners start dreaming of summer tomatoes. Camellia’s Spring Tomato Tart is an early start on summer- while we wait for our tomato vies to bear. Tomato sandwiches are on our minds. Simple sliced summer tomato slices make an appearance on almost every southern plate. We do everything we can, to preserve the taste of summer as long as we can. I think planting cherry tomatoes offers a head start on the taste only a fresh tomato offers, and yes- the closer you live to a tomato vine the better your life will be.
I believe that fresh tomato pies are a distinctly southern dish. When colorful heirloom cherry tomatoes showed up in my grocery store last week… well, after a bit of testing, we came up with a spring version of Tomato Pie- here’s how you make- Camellia’s Spring Tomato Tart.
Using cherry tomatoes, this Spring version of the classic southern favorite, Tomato Pie, is light refreshing and delicious. Served with a mixed green salad and crumbled bacon for a luncheon or as a side for Spring and Easter Dinners, Camellia’s Spring Tomato Tart is a beautiful addition.
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
1 9 inchPrepared Pie CrustRolled, not in pie crust pan.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unroll prepared pie crust in a lightly buttered springform pan. * the pie crust should come up the sides about an inch or less. With a fork prick bottom of crust. Bake 15-16 minutes or until lightly browned. While crust is baking, combine grated Gouda, cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Sprinkle a teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 1/4 cup of green onion tops over cheeses and toss to combine. Place on warm crust and allow to sit until filling is ready. *Do not put filling on cheeses and warm pie crust. Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, softened cream cheese, chopped garlic and pesto until combined; mix in more red pepper flakes, 1/2 of remaining green onion tops, dry basil and cracked black pepper. * Salt is not added until Tomato Tart is served. Complete melting cheeses in tart Shell by returning to 400 degree oven for 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly. Smooth Filling over melted cheese while still in springform pan. Carefully remove filled tart and top generously with halved cherry tomatoes, * Discard an juices from tomatoes before topping tart.Top tart with additional green onion tops, a sprinkling of dried basil and cracked black pepper. Cut in wedges with serrated knife. Serves 4-6 generously.
We found - a 10 inch springform pan is the best and easiest to use for this tomato tart. The tart shell may be baked in a shallow 9” baking pan, however, this tart does not lend itself to a deep dish pie.
Perfect for Brunch, a ladies luncheon or even as a side dish on the Easter table, Spring Tomato Tart is great on its own for a meatless meal, however, ours was served with a mixed green salad with lots of crumbled bacon. Also wonderful alongside ham, roasted fish or shrimp-this tart is beautiful, cool and delicious. Easy enough to assemble that you’ll find time to get the ground ready for those summer tomato plants! Welcome Spring with an early Tomato Tart!
Love y’all, Camellia
* All photographs are obviously mine.
*Tip: For easy, quick assembly, we decided to use prepared pie crust, prepared pesto and pre-grated cheeses may be used as well. It makes an easy weeknight meal, if you blend the cheeses and the filling ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. You may, of course, make your own piecrust or grate your own cheese. Here’s another photograph of how ours came together- .
I didn’t set out with Memory Gardens in mind… though the idea began to form when my grandmother shared some Hosta and Spiderwort, then an old gardener sent Daffodil bulbs and another shared Bearded Irises. My father in law, sent a few Redbud saplings from the family farm and my mother showed up one day with a sapling called Glory Bower, which blooms in the dead of summer when nothing else will. The Glory Bower is in bloom near one of our daughter’s birthday and always reminds me of her, beautiful and generous. Each year it seemed, I had memories of my family and others who had generously shared plants. Here’s a closeup of Spiderwort-
Tip #1 Memory Gardens can be scattered throughout the landscape or in a designated place. I do both.
I had an idea of purchasing a tree or a shrub on special occasions or in memory of a loved one…So, a memory garden was forming as I was learning about where, what and when to plant. On several occasions I gave a living plant instead of sending flowers and often bought one to be planted here at the cottage. Without really planning a Memory Garden, my garden was making memories for me.
Tip #2 Think perennials. Memory Gardens aren’t just about trees and shrubs- Herbs, like Rosemary- for Remembrance, Lavendar for Love and Devotion,Sage for Long Life and Wisdom- are great memorable additions. The bearded irises weren’t given to me by my grandmother yet, she loved them, so they remind me of her, always. Bulbs, Ferns, Hosta, Shasta Daisies are wonderful and can be planted in the garden, near a loved one’s birth date. Perennials as bereavement plants which die down but return year after year are a hopeful reminder of the resurrection.
When we re-did the front yard- a parking area in front of a picket fence changed things. A family member gave me two heirloom roses- New Dawn, they are the ones at the end of the fence. Every year, I’m reminded of her beauty, her thoughtfulness and her kindness. The pale pink roses still grow proudly at each end of the picket fence, And they bloom close to her birthday! A tiny gardenia shrub was bought on sale… it reminded me of a dear friend, who had loved a fragrance with a distinct gardenia note, the shrub is now so big- it has to be cut back! I planted a hedge of holly, that was perfect behind a garden bench given to me by my sister, it reminds me of her everyday. On and on it seemed, I was given plants or buying plants that evoked memories. The garden began to mature… What I found as the years went by… is that Light changes everything.
Tip #3 Even if you have established a specific area as a Memory Garden- be prepared to divide, move or even replace plants. When this occurs, I try to use memory plants in another more appropriate site, especially with adequate light.
Trees grow. Sun loving plants find themselves in the shade. Trees fall. Shade loving plants shrivel in the sunlight. Trees even age and die. The soil is disturbed or other trees crowd them out. And, these elements affect our yard to this day. So! It became important to me to establish areas where my memory plants had the best chance of survival. And some memory plants need dividing. I didn’t want to lose the old heirloom plants, so I divided them and spread them throughout the garden areas; still purchasing memory plants along the way.
Tip #4 Memory Plants are all occasion! Births, Milestones such as graduations, Weddings, Anniversaries, in addition to the Loss of a Loved One, are the perfect opportunity for memory plants. The main criteria is choosing a plant which evokes a memory of the occasion and the loved one.
Little Gem Magnolias were planted in memory of my Aunt Iva and my precious grandmother, Mimi. Yet the occasion when the magnolias were purchased commemorates our daughter’s wedding. They were used as a large display in urns at her wedding reception. I like to call these Little Gems- my ‘Steel Magnolias’; which Mimi and Aunt Iva certainly were, as were other southern ladies for whom I purchased the same small magnolias. Those magnolia trees and a few camellias I had purchased evoked to wonderful memories throughout our garden, not to mention the beautiful large blooms!
Tip #5 For very special occasions you may choose to plant a specimen tree or large shrub. Be sure to site the tree for its own specific needs for soil and light.
If you’re getting the idea that my memory plants were placed at whim, you wouldn’t be far from the truth, I planted for the conditions the plants and trees required. A freeform Memory Garden was more like it… until 2006.My mother in law died. I was devastated. I worked furiously in the garden in the days following her death. Being on my knees, seemed the right place to be; brought to my knees by this blow of her death- I could be alone, I could dig, yank weeds, weep over the least tiny bloom- gardening helped. Have you ever felt like that? Immersing yourself in a hobby or physical tasks that free the mind? Gardening was therapy for me. Shortly after her death, to honor her , we were given a piece of statuary, an angel.
It seemed too large to put on prominent display in the front of our house…. as I continued to work out my grief- a spot toward the back of our yard, kept catching my eye… it was a clump of dogwoods, they were in bud. It seemed to be the perfect spot! So, that’s where she is…my angel and my first attempt at a specific Memory Garden. At the base of the angel, were planted miniature daffodil bulbs from a funeral basket of spring flowers my sister gave our family. They have multiplied over the last decade. In the Spring since the Angel was placed, it still surprises me- if anyone glances this way, passing the cottage- down the side yard toward the dogwoods… there is an Angel. The spot for her Memory Garden was somehow, by some miracle- chosen for me, not the other way around. We have since lost some dogwoods, planted some roses and crepe myrtles.
Tip # 6 Be careful buying statuary. Use it sparingly. Place it appropriately, so that it’s shape and size work with your garden. Sometimes your site will tell you where it needs to be placed!
So! I have continued my practice of buying memory plants. In 2017, I planted a camellia for my friend, Denis who died that spring.(photo above) I planted ten azaleas when my mother died, also in the Spring of 2017. Five azaleas for her grandchildren and five for her great grandchildren- she adored them all! Those were interspersed in the existing garden. Still. She has her own specific Memory Garden.
Friends and family bought hydrangeas for my mother as well, she loved hydrangeas and I do too! They are in shades of pink, white, green and blue that can only be called ‘hydrangea blue’. I planted them in groups by color, not mixing them so it’s more pleasing to the eye. There were a good many, so- for my mother… there is a hydrangea garden along a side yard and around the back deck- areas which were never intended as a memory garden. Yet it seemed to chosen for me. I plan to add and add to it until the hydrangeas say- ‘No more, please’. Memory Gardening has been a source of great joy to me. I tend to name the plants- Denis, the Camellia delighted me, when she was full of blooms this year!
Tip #7 Add to your memories all at once or, perhaps a better plan is to gradually add to it, as I am doing with the hydrangeas and camellias.
Last fall, my beloved Walter, a Himalayan cat who had graced us with his presence at this cottage, died. I had to do something for Walter, I was almost inconsolable. My sister had given me a statuary cat, more than a decade ago, it had never found a permanent site. At age 17, I suppose, Walter had lived a long life- I never imagined the grief I would experience when he died. So, I created a very small Memory Garden for him… under one of the azaleas planted for my mother, the statuary cat was placed, with an engraved stone which epitomized Walter…it says, ‘Do no great things, only small things with greatlove.’ Rose petals fall on this small piece of statuary, it isn’t visible from the street, but I see him every day as I go to my car. Somehow it comforts me. I have recently planted a few scraggly violas near him hoping they will re-seed. There are lamb’s ears nearby too. Each one seems to be a bit of those small things only a family pet is able to bring to a household.
Now, I’ve gone all sad sack on you and I don’t want you think Memory Gardens are just for bereavement- they aren’t! Plant memories for any occasion- name them or not, but as you plant- you are putting down roots, you are making a garden, you are making your home, your neighborhood, your world a more beautiful place!
Tip # 8 Don’t be afraid to ask for advice! Your local garden shop is a wealth of information. Ask them to suggest plants to use, what the plant will require, and how large it will get. You may need to have specimen plants installed, sometimes a garden center will be able to suggest a service. Ask for help- your plants willlove you for it!
Like I said, I didn’t set out to create a Memory Garden… now, that I have, the memories make me a better gardener. When a baby is born or a beloved friend passes on… I hope you will visit your garden center and pick out a special plant. And if the notion strikes or if there is a space in your garden, perhaps you will plant it and start a Memory Garden of your own… now, if you excuse me, I need to go outside and plant a Leyland Cypress named Wayne…
Love y’all, Camellia
* All photographs are obviously mine. The quote near the statuary cat is attributed to Mother Teresa. My husband’s dear friend, Wayne died right before Christmas, an evergreen was given to the family and the Leyland Cypress is to be planted here at Camellia’s Cottage.
Light as a feather, filled with a rich lemony filling, Lemon Angel Roll is a match made in heaven. Impressive in looks, it’s surprisingly easy to make. Angel food cakes have enjoyed a love affair with southern cooks for a long time…I recall angel food cakes filled with strawberries and topped with whipped cream. Someone came up with the idea to cut an angel food cake in half, scoop out a tunnel on each half, filled…usually with a light and airy strawberry cream filling or peaches, when in season, paired beautifully with angel food cake.
One of my most distinct memories of angel food cakes was for a day long double event- my high school sorority had dubbed as the Heaven and Hell party (yes, it’s sounds scandalous- we were teenagers! Actually it was fully chaperoned!). The event was held in beautiful homes during the summertime when naturally- the weather was quite warm! The afternoon party was a swim party- the dessert was Devil’s Food cakes, spicy foods, including deviled eggs’ then lways.. little bowls of red hot candies were scattered around. In the morning, we hosted a ‘heavenly event’. The food was…well, it was divine. Angel Biscuits filled with slivers of pink ham, pink fluff set in molds, turned out and centers filled fruit- often, cotton candy, tiny petit fours and of course Angel Food Cake featured prominently for the morning party. We wore pretty sundresses, I think one year I wore pastel pink…or maybe it was blue. Jelly Roll cakes seemed to have been in fashion too.
Now, I’ve made angel food cakes and of course, the Roulage which is a rolled flourless chocolate cake- however the Lemon Angel Roll, is a recipe that has been languishing in my recipe box for over 30 years. Okay, I don’t have a recipe box. Still, I do have recipes like this Lemon Roll, I run across about once a year, though I never seem to get ‘around’ to it. I mean come on- a rolled cake? I’m no pastry chef. This was the year I thought. If the Lemon Angel Roll failed? Who would know? Or care? So, while I had that jelly roll pan out to make the Roulage… I made a Lemon Angel Roll. What I found was this- if I can make it? You can!
A light, airy rolled cake with a tangy lemon filling.
115 ounceAngel Food Cake mix
114 ounceSweetened Condensed Milk
1/4CupFresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
Zest of one lemonApprox. 2 teaspoons
4OuncesWhipped Cream 1/2 cup heavy cream- whipped
4-6Drops Yellow Food Coloring Optional
Confectioners SugarFor dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees- (cake mix may not give oven temperature) Line a jelly roll pan (approx. 15x10 inch) with parchment paper , clamp parchment around the edge (do not grease parchment or pan!) prepare angel food cake mix according to directions being careful not to overbeat. Spread 3/4 of the batter into lined jelly roll pan. Discard the rest of batter. Bake 20-25 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly. Immediately! Turn onto a kitchen towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. ( Loosen sides of cake if necessary before turning. ) Peel off parchment paper and discard. Beginning at the narrow end, roll up cake and towel in jelly roll fashion. Allow to cool thoroughly. For filling- combine sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and zest; mix well. Fold in whipped cream. If desired tint with yellow food coloring. Unrollcaje, trim edges. Spread with lemon filling (you ma have extra filling) Reroll the cake. Chill, seam side down. If desired spread extra filling in a skim coat over the cake, if not- heavily dust with powdered sugar. Cake may be frozen up to 2 weeks or stored in refrigerator for a few hours. ( Cake must be thoroughly to slice evenly. Garnish with citrus slices or berries. Very pretty light dessert. Makes 6 servings.
I chose to follow the old recipe and use the Angel Food Cake mix since this was a test run…A tip: Do not overwhip the cake mix and … use 3/4 of the batter if you’re using a jelly roll pan, otherwise it will overflow. Discard or bake the excess in a mini muffin pan. You may have excess filling- I would recommend filling the Lemon Angel Roll as thick as possible and saving the excess to serve on the side. The original recipe called for coating the outside of the roll with the excess filling then coating with shredded coconut on the top and sides. I feel this would have been a better combination if filled with Lime – and this would be a wonderful variation. The original also called for bottled lemon juice- no ma’am, use the real deal and zest the lemons first! I preferred the more classic presentation of confectioners sugar and berries. The Lemon Angel Roll seems to fit with a few things we’ve been sharing on Instagram and an upcoming post on Memory Gardens! Hopefully an angelic photo or two as well.
Of all the flavors of the south, lemon might just be one of the most prominent flavors in my memories of good food and good times. All the best to you this coming week!
Love y’all, Camellia
*The old recipe came from a thin cookbook put out by Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. *All photographs are obviously mine!
My first serving of Roulage was at a tiny tea room where ladies met for elegant brunch, where mother-daughter luncheons or bridesmaids’ met the day before a wedding to dine with the bride and her female family members. This beloved place was down a cobbled lane on Southside, a place aptly named Cobb’s Lane. When I was a mere teenager, yet I believed I had never tasted any dessert that was more decadent. A deep rich chocolate roll around a cloud of whipped cream. Yes, there were other dishes we enjoyed there, a beautiful salad plate, a chicken imperial, if not in name- regal in taste, though as someone recently recalled- ‘We went to Cobb’s Lane for the roulage.’ And we did.
The Roulage recipe I have is old, it has no attribution, yet I’ve always been told it was the famous Cobb’s Lane Roulage. And while I’ve updated the technique, the ingredients are essentially the same. Eggs separately beaten, confectioners sugar, a few tablespoons of cocoa- no flour no butter- poured into a squeaky clean and dry jelly roll pan. Filled and rolled with lightly sweetened whipped cream – the presentation is always impressive even if the cocoa is uneven when dusted or whether the roll cracks a bit. It’s imperfections are just part of a fresh made Roulage.
The French call the method a roulade, other cultures call it a Swiss Roll. Some have been redundant in calling this version- a chocolate roulage- in the the South, the essence of a Roulage is that it’s a chocolate roll. I suppose I thought of roulage as a jelly roll, but it’s not exactly a simple sponge cake, since the batter does contain egg yolks, but no flour- though the baker does indeed use her jelly roll pan. There are those who’ve tried to improve the unimproveable by adding Bourbon or Grand Mariner to the whipped cream, or by setting a slice of Roulage in a pool of raspberry sauce- still, the classic is best. To be honest, I don’t make Roulage often enough. Or at least that’s what I think every time I make it. Still. When I make a roulage, it takes me back to a tiny, elegant, hidden-away place, called Cobb’s Lane.
The classic dark chocolate roulage, is a light flourless sponge cake filled with whipped cream and rolled, then dusted with cocoa powder.
5 LargeEgg Yolks
1Cup Confectioners SugarSifted
3 TbsDutch Processed CocoaPlus more for dusting
5LargeEgg WhitesStiffly Beaten
1/2PintHeavy CreamWhipped and chilled
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. With the whisk attachment, stiffly beat 5 large egg whites and set aside. In another mixing bowl Beat 5 egg yolks until pale yellow. Add 1 cup confectioners sugar. Blend in 3 Tbs of Dutch Cocoa until blended well. Fold in gently, the stiffly beaten eggs whites. Smooth mixture lightly into an untreated 9x13 jelly roll pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes making sure mixture springs back lightly to the touch. During bake time, dampen a kitchen towel *Or you may use a silicone baking mat, which is what I have used with very good results. Put 3-6 Tablespoons Dutch Cocoa in a small bowl with a small sieve. Sift cocoa over a large piece of parchment paper. When roll is baked, turn out onto silicone damp towel immediately. (You may need to quickly loosen lightly before turning out) Trim edges of roll, then roll in damp towel - while still hot. Cool , while covered with an additional kitchen towel. ( Note: I have had excellent results turning the Roulage base in a silicone baking mat, instead of the damp towel, then wrapping the mat in a damp towel. When cool, remove the towel covering the roll and unroll on a cocoa covered parchment which coats the outside of roll. Spread whipped cream over surface, then roll. Place roll on waxed paper, cover. Cover this in plastic wrap securely and chill. With a serrated knife, slice roulage and serve on dessert plates, garnished with berries. ( Roulage may be frozen,if not serving right away. Serves 6 beautifully.
You will need a 9x14 jelly roll pan with a 1 inch rim or a similar size baking pan with rim. The pan must be squeaky clean and undressed to accept the batter.
A silicone baking mat or a dampened flour sack kitchen towel must be used to roll the roulade for cooling. A good grade of parchment paper or a second dry silicone mat or flour sack towel covered with sifted cocoa must be ready to unroll the Roulage, before filling with slightly sweetened whipped cream( you will need 2 approximately 2 cups of whipped cream- please do not use non-dairy whipped topping!
Very old recipes call for the dampened flour sack towel, I used silicone baking mats to roll and cool- with excellent results.
Roulage is best served fresh rolled, chilled and cut, however it may also be made a day ahead, placed infilled with whipped creamin freezer. The roulade must allowed to thaw completely to unroll. Fill with whipped cream, roll gently. Slice and place carefully on dessert plates.
It does take a bit of self confidence to make a Roulage, just remember that the imperfections of a Roulage, only add to its beauty. For really, it’s a dessert that shouldn’t-couldn’t-wouldn’t want to be mass produced perfection. Here’s hoping that some time, you’ll challenge yourself to make a Roulage.
There’s no doubt that Winter takes it toll on our skin; and while Spring is on it’s way…our thoughts turn to the time when we’ll shed these winter coats in favor of lighter weight clothing…which means- do I have to say it? Our skin will be revealed! Even after years of working in the fragrance and cosmetics industry- I must say, I’m always learning new things and paying closer attention to the largest organ in the human body- our Skin. It actually takes a lot for me to be inspired by new treatments and products- yet, I do think these tips are worth sharing!
Dry Brushing: This is my first and best skin care tip! The photograph you see is a dry brush that I purchased after reading about the benefits of dry brushing. I had to convince myself that it actually worked, and I’m here to tell you I’ve reaped the benefits! So, I ordered the full set of dry brushes. Not only is dry brushing a natural skin care product- it is also a practice every adult should be using! Dry brushing removes dead skin cells while at the same time – those nubs in among the bristles are stimulating the lymph glands to help rid the body of toxins, and… you’ll love this- it also aids in toning and tightening the skin! There are several different prices and products for dry brushing available, just make sure the bristles are of natural fibers. The dry brush set should come with directions also. The idea is to never get these brushes wet. Stand on a towel or a bath mat before you get into the shower or bathtub. When you brush your legs do it in upward strokes- always brushing toward the heart! The set I bought had a large body brush, a hair brush which stimulates the scalp and a side effect is it works to de-tangle. Also, in the set was a face brush which I was more reluctant to use, since I make an all natural scrub to exfoliate my facial skin. Y’all? this facial brush is wonderful! There is a ‘map’ that comes with my brush set to show you how to dry brush the face- so, it doesn’t just act as an exfoliator- it also stimulates my face and neck. I can actually see and feel the results after only a few weeks! So, if you add just this one thing to your skin care routine- it’s not a fad- it’s an ancient practice worth trying!
Water: We all know about drinking more water and wintertime it’s critical to drink more fluids. I’ve been trying to make pretty water to entice me! Here’s one I made recently-with cucumbers, mint and lime! As great as it is to consume more water- if we’re dehydrated in the first place, our internal organs are making the best of liquids we consume well before the benefits reach our skin! So- here’s a tip to make a good long soak do double duty- add ingredients to the water. The old remedy for aching muscles is Epsom Salts and yes it does work. However, adding any natural salt will bring precious moisture to the skin surface and make that just brushed skin look and feel wonderful. The other thing you may want to add to bath water is dry milk in granular form. Now…if Cleopatra knew this was good for her skin, who are we to second guess her? The science behind milk baths- is that lactic acid in milk is a natural skin softener!! Read that again! Lactic acid softens the skin! You can also add dry milk to your favorite skin scrub and make it even better!
Vitamin C Serum Touted by skin care experts as natural Botox®! You can pay almost any price you choose for Vitamin C serum. Now, you may be consuming loads of Vitamin C in tablet form or drinking lots of citrus juice, which is terrific for your overall health- again…it would take masses of orange juice before the benefits actually reach your skin! So, here’s what I’ve done in the photo above- I saved lemon peels, put them in 2-3 cups of water and brought the pot to a boil (the house smelled wonderful!) Cover and turn off the heat. Allow this mixture to steep for a few hours, then discard the lemon peels and keep lemon water serum chilled. The result is a lemon water, which is a homemade Vitamin C Serum. Orange peels will work as well. Vitamin C is water soluble, so it’s delivery system to the body, and also why it doesn’t remain in the body very long! With the homemade lemon serum- Dip a cotton pad into the lemon water serum, then saturate your face and neck. You will be surprised to note a skin tightening effect. This skin treatment is delightful, can be repeated as often as you choose and is practically free! The essential oils in citrus have been proven to reduce fine lines, fade sun spots, minimize wrinkles and have an excellent track record on delivering antioxidants to the skin. And that’s not all, lemon and orange oils are very potent- so potent in fact that used in furniture polish, they restore dry cracked wood, what do you think the effect that lemon serum would be on the skin? They do work on fading age spots, minor skin tags and even reduce scarring after surgery. Now, to be honest, there are wonderful Vitamin C Serum products on the market, some are very expensive and not all that much better than the less expensive ones- just look for at least 20 % vitamin C serum in the product!
What I want you to take away from these tips, is that they are safe, natural and proven. And, please use a good face and body moisturizer on the skin after these treatments, all natural moisturizers abound. Just make sure the term ‘all natural’ is actually true and is plant based. If you want to deliver an all natural moisturizer from your pantry, you can’t do much better than straight Olive Oil- which has a healing effect on the skin. If you want more skin care tips- send me an email- I will be happy to tell you the name brand of the dry brush system I am currently using- it is economical and all natural bristles; I will also recommend a few Vitamin C Serum products I am currently testing and seeing the results, quicker than I would have believed possible. We are not being compensated in any way for these recommendations, however, I do feel they are high quality and for a very reasonable price. Email us for this information, our address is: email@example.com
I believe good skin care helps us feel better, improves our overall look- first take care of the skin, then apply the makeup- is the rule! One of the best ways to age gracefully is to take care of ourselves inside and out!
Love y’all, Camellia
*All information is gleaned from my own background in the industry and personal testing and research, if you experience any side effects, rashes or other skin problems- discontinue use. I never recommend a product that we haven’t tested first!
Have you ever heard of Doting? Here’s what I think most folks believe it means….
‘She’s always doted on that child.’
‘Well, you know his momma was alwaysdelicate, he’s doted on her especially now that she’s in her dotage.’
‘ I tell you now, she doted on that man, always making him his favorite foods, keeping him neat as a pin and making sure everything was just so.’ ‘
He loved that car, doted on it like it was a crying child- why he kept that engine so clean you could eat off of it.’
‘Well, she was the baby of the family, so everybody doted on her.’
Now, we’ve all heard of doting or I guess most folks have. When anybody talks about doting, we basically think it means –
‘She waits on him hand and foot.’
‘Works himself to death trying to keep her happy.’
‘That child is spoiled rotten, I tell you- when she grows up- she’s gonna expect the world to be handed to her on a silver platter.’
Yet, that’s not really what doting means at all. The fine art of doting actually means … To care for tenderly, to habitually bestow fondness and love; to regularly treat or speak to a loved one with kind devotion and gentle affection.
It’s a harsh world we live in- extreme sporting events, conversations or workouts. Flashing lights, loud music and never ending communication. We’re bombarded with products, information and technology. Calendars are packed, schedules overlap, being overwhelmed is the rule not the exception. It’s time to bring back the Fine Art of Doting. Oh yes, it will take a bit of beingunplugged and slowing down- however, these suggestions take very little time or effort.
Perhaps, due to our religious upbringing- phrases like ‘self-love’ are overridden by teachings about being selfless and thinking about others first. Still. How can you ‘love your neighbor as you love yourself’ if there’s not a certain amount of taking care of yourself? Here’s a few ways that aren’t selfish at all, and are also great for sharing with others!
Did you know that spending 15-30 minutes outdoors everyday is recommended for all round good health? I find just walking around my garden to see what I can see is my favorite way to get in some time outdoors. To my delight I recently found Ice Folly Daffodils and the precious- Snowbells!
I love to garden, I think it’s a wonderful pastime- yet- to give a living plant, shrub or even a small tree to a bereaved family may be one of the most comforting things you can do. Here at the cottage, a memory garden was started after my mother in law died over a decade ago. We also have several living things planted to honor loved ones. Just as my grandmother’s spiderwort and hosta remind me of her every year- so do these bereavement plants.
My favorite apps on my iPhone are the calendar and timer! It’s one way I dote on myself- since I work at home… I set alerts for small tasks to get up from the laptop- or set the timer for 15-30 minutes to sit and read a book. And by all means set a bedtime alert- to get those hours of sleep everyone so desperately needs! Limit exposure to LED lighting, either by removing them from where you sleep or my favorite- wearing a sleep mask! I’ve also tried the app called Calm…it’s a short meditative pause. And since, we’re all told to limit screen time- and I’m loving the notification of how much time I’ve spent online!
Make a habit of putting the phone down when eating family meals or meeting friends- it’s so much better to create the habit of talking person to person! While you are online, learn something new, while spending the time wisely, I’ve been taking a free Winter Photography Workshop on Instagram offered by @thelittleplantation. I’m low end when compared to the amazing photographers in the class- but my oh my! What gorgeous photographs! Beauty in any form feeds the soul! Here’s one of my entries:
It’s no secret I love to cook- but what I appreciate even more than the cooking is gathering around a table of good food. Somehow, folks who might disagree on almost everything become agreeable and companionable around a table. Dote on yourself and your family by making simple meals, but don’t forget to set aside a time to load up the table with good food to be shared with others. Grazing boards are a wonderful simple way to eat at home or entertain-
I’ll be sharing more skin care tips soon- yet I think we all can agree, winter takes it’s toll on everyone’s skin! Here’s a few things that help tremendously- Stay hydrated and get more water (I’ve a challenged another food blogger to make ‘pretty water’) It’s been a fun wsy to entice myself to drink more water… I find when it’s pretty I certainly drink more of it! Here’s a few of my entries. Adding citrus or fruits and vegetables flavors the water slightly and takes very little time. The best thing is- I’m enjoying it.
Switching over to a ‘milk soap’ is a good move… When I worked for Oscar de la Renta fragrance and cosmetics, we had a product that always had a waiting list! It was Oscar’s Bubble Bath, which was non-skid and also had powderedmilk granules in it- the lactic acid in milk products is one of the best skin softeners! You can certainly benefit from dissolving about 1/2 cup of dry milk while you run very warm bath water. Test adding granular milk for yourself and see whether your skin feels softer! Goats Milk Soap is another way to soften skin, this one I found at www.sparrowssoap.com
And, a new skin treatment that I’m loving… Its called- Dry Brushing– it’s a whole body treatment that rids the body of flaky skin while also stimulating the lymph glands! Can’t wait to tell you more about it!
Now, I know we all love shopping, however, it’s a good practice to shop your closet first! Most people buy the same new things that they already have in their closet! This is good advice- especially since we’re in a transition season, instead of clothes shopping- accessorize! If you’ve got the itch to buy? Shop for accessories. Here’s a few I’m loving lately! The ribbon badges were found on Amazon and the pearls…oh always pearls! Those pearls were a gift- and came from JCrew!
Make a habit of dreaming a little… plan a household project or a vacation! Right now, I’m in the middle of making reservations and have an itinerary of all the things we hope to do in beautiful Colorado Springs! We’ll be staying at the beautiful Broadmoor Hotel. For sure, we’ll enjoy eating those mile high donuts atop Pike’s Peak! Who knows? Maybe we’ll even break out in a rendition of ‘America the Beautiful’ while we’re there! And I hope to take a short road trip to Garden of the Gods- with its amazing huge red rock formations.
And..the dreams and plans don’t stop there… of course, I’m looking at a few dates and places to stay at the beach! Looking forward and making a plan for family beach time this summer, kicking off our shoes and feeling the sand between our toes!
Make a plan to update a corner, a tabletop or even a room. It’s always helpful to our mental health to look forward! My plan starts this spring with installing striped outdoor curtains, which were on sale last fall, in black, gray and white cabana stripe….to finish up a household project- our tiny screen porch!
And finally, one of my very favorite ways to dote on others… Sometime, somewhere- when they least expect it- Send a surprise note or gift for no reason at all! This is truly the fine art of doting. A small plant plopped in a waterproof plastic bag then covered with a small burlap bag or even a lunch sack- tied with a pretty ribbon, is doting in many different forms- a small gift for a co-workers desk, a tiny reminder to a friend that she’s appreciated or even dote on yourself a little bit! The main thing is to surprise! Now, wait for it- you know, I have to give you something homemade!
I recently made a batch of homemade marshmallows for a much loved family in upstate New York- hopefully they will enjoy many cups of hot chocolate to chase away the chill! And – be surprised to get them! Don’t they look wonderful?
Now don’t forget to read below the recipe. A bit more on the Fine Art of Doting! Here’s how you make our very own Cottage Marshmallows! Though, it’s not much different from most marshmallow recipes, there is one tip you won’t want to miss! And these are easy enough to surprise your family too!
Homemade Marshmallows, a confection that’s fun to make and will delight - especially in winter to top a cup of hot chocolate!
1 1/2 CupsGranulated Sugar
1 CupLight Corn Syrup
1/4Teaspoon SaltPreferably Kosher
1 1/2Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Confectioners SugarMix with..
Corn StarchRatio 1:4 with confectioners sugar being the 4
In the bowl of stand mixer, combine gelatin with 1/2 cup of cold water. Allow to sit undisturbed while making the sugar syrup. In a small heavy saucepan combine granulated sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup of water. Blend corn starch and confectioners sugar in a bowl and set aside. On low heat, stir until sugar is dissolved, then do not stir anymore. Clip on a candy thermometer. Raise heat to medium high increasing heat gradually, until candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees. Remove from heat. The stand mixture should be fitted with a whisk attachment. Very carefully pour the hot sugar syrup, with whisk on low speed, into the gelatin mixture. Raise speed to medium high, then higher as the mixture is incorporated. Mixture will become light and airy, generally tripled in volume after 12-15 minutes of continuous whisking. While mixture is whisking- prepare an 8x12 inch glass baking dish with a sieve dust confectioners sugar/ corn starch blend generously Slow mixer speed and add vanilla extract, blend well. Pour marshmallow mixture into pan, smooth top and dust generously with more of the confectioners sugar/ corn starch blend. * Corn Starch added to confectioners sugar helps marshmallows dry out better. Let mixture stand overnight uncovered to dry out. Turn out onto a marble surface or a board and with a serrated knife cut marshmallows into squares- whatever size you prefer ! But at least 1 1/2 inch squares. Toss in more confectioners sugar to coat all sides. * marshmallows can be tinted during the whisking process, however, I tend to think the classic white is the prettiest !
Marshmallows are best stored flat, covered with foil until ready to package. I prefer cellphane bags instead of plastic.
Now, you know I have a story… when I first began making homemade marshmallows… I was just tickled with myself and decided to take them to a holiday gathering… when I explained what this confection was… someone said- ‘Why bother?’ Actually the answer is in the handcrafted marshmallow- it’s soft and sweet, it melts in a cup of hot chocolate like a cloud and let’s face it- If anyone ever makes you a batch of homemade marshmallows? Well! that’s the Fine Art of Doting!
Love y’all, Camellia
*All photographs are obviously mine, with the exception of the opening photograph which was found on Pinterest with no attribution- if it’s yours? please let me know so I can give you credit! Amazon and JCrew are registered trademarks and this is not a compensated post for anything you see here!
*Advertisements on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of Camellia’s Cottage.
*Check out what we’re doing on Instagram, we’re posting everyday!
I think we’re all ready for a fresh start after the holidays each year. By fresh start, I don’t mean getting rid of everything….more that I prefer to refresh, renew and repurpose what I already have, even what’s worked previously but for some reason has fallen by the wayside in the middle of … well, life. I try not to set goals that honestly set me up for failure, especially when it comes to exercise. Why? Ok, I’m not proud of the fact that I’m not athletic… one of the top posts here was written in the first year- it’s called Instinct or Fitness which regales a few of my various mishaps. Not included was a more recent splat on a sidewalk in upscale Georgetown DC. I literally tripped on an uneven sidewalk about an hour after I arrived with my family. I had made reservations for our first tour- a moonlight ride through our nation’s capitol of the iconic monuments that evening. We had to re-schedule the wonderful tour due to my less-than-graceful splat on the sidewalk! In fact, our first tour of D.C. was in a large rescue vehicle, the EMT’s graciously let all five of us ride to the hospital! I ended up with a few stitches on my forehead, a seriously sprained arm and a torn meniscus! Once again my fall-back exercise after I finished rehab was the only exercise I’ve ever been able to actually do and that I truly enjoy- Yoga! I have literally worn out 2 yoga DVDs and protect my third one like it is gold! The DVD is from Gaiam and is called Yoga AM by Rodney Yee.
With my first knee surgery, also from an injury, I recovered full rotation of my knee and I believe due to this yoga practice. My yoga practice has been sporadic but always effective and enjoyable for almost 20 years now!
A few years ago, I also became intrigued with the health benefits of meditation, using guided courses but inserting special Scriptures when appropriate to enhance my own meditation. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 19: 14 ‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, oh Lord, my rock and my redeemer.’ This practice of meditation became critical to my well being when I underwent a series of radiation treatments in 2017 to shrink a non-cancerous tumor on my carotid artery. Controlled breathingcombined with meditation on special scriptures enabled my anxious and claustrophobic self to not only endure but sail through the treatments with very few side effects! As it turns out, my balance had been affected by mycondition which could explain the falls I had! (Finding underlying health issues is important too!) Still. I’ll never be a great athlete. Finding exercises I will actually do is a priority– yoga is one of those! So! Imagine my delight when Gaiam, a leader in these healthy practices of yoga and meditation along with fine products shared an offer with me, that I could pass along to you! I think yoga and meditation are great for any age- but especially for folks of…ahem… a certain age like me! It improves breathing, circulation, flexibility, posture and is uplifting and energizing. Best of all, many types of yoga are low impact and can be done in your own home, at your own pace and level of capability, no matter what age you may be. I am thrilled to extend an offer to you for 19% off all yoga and meditation products along with free shipping on all orders over $49 from Gaiam to jumpstart your 2019 goals! I think you will find yoga and meditation require very little equipment to get started. The main thing is to find exercises you enjoy and will do, yoga, gardening or… kickboxing? I for one am grateful that a yoga DVD from Gaiam is where I began. And it’s where I’m beginning the New Year; for my health and well being will once again start with my Gaiam yoga DVD. All the best with your own fresh start in 2019!
Love y’all, Camellia
* Click through this link to get your 19% discount with Gaiam
Even if the wreath is on the door, the gift buying has commenced and the Christmas Shortbread dough is in the freezer waiting to be baked- the season really begins for me when the first Christmas Card arrives! One of life’s sweetest gifts are those family photographs taken months before and made into Family Christmas Cards! Over the years they’ve become cherished memories. We are blessed to be on the Christmas Card list of surely the World’s Most Beautiful Families. Sometimes the cards come with a winter scene of a nice young couple, a beautiful baby, tiny sisters or even a poignant photograph of a young girl with red shoes that is worthy of it’s own portrait.
Sometimes the cards come with gold foil lined envelopes and heavy beautiful card stock. Some cards are of a vintage scene. Some have a photograph of the cute family pets or of a child sitting with Santa Claus. Some are whimsical beribboned and hand painted.
I love them all! It’s been a tradition for years, to save up the Christmas Cards. On Christmas Day, we look at them, exclaim about how nice it was to get them; then, I enjoy making a call or writing a thank you note that we’ve been kept on the list for the beautiful Family Christmas Cards. I have to admit for various reasons- as much as I thoroughly enjoy receiving Christmas Cards and am forever grateful to receive these wonderful cards; except for One Rare Occasion I’ve never gotten my own act together to send out Christmas Cards.
Why? because- Our Family Photograph Christmas Card was never a reality. We simply never came up with a decent card worthy family photograph– there is always-
one who is the deer in the headlights
or blinked at the inopportune moment
or who wore the wrong thing
stood the wrong way
or was the odd one out-
was the only one who had on sunglasses or didn’t
always statements like –‘You can’t send that one!’
It’s sort of horrifying actually.
Now, Southerners are big on heritage and lineage- it’s almost biblical to keep the family tree going with at the very least a church directory photograph! And here we are without a decent Family Photograph, for posterity. Several years ago, we had received an inordinate amount of the World’s Most Beautiful Family Christmas Cards! I came up with a plan- I would send out our very own Family Photograph Christmas Card. We had been to Colorado Springs over Thanksgiving, stayed at the beautiful Broadmoor Hotel, even met Reba McIntyre, and had fun on a Sleigh Ice Sculpture! Very Scenic, lots of fun.
We took a trip up the Broadmoor’s Cog Railway to Pike’s Peak, where a kind soul took a Family Photograph. We all had one thing in common- we all looked awful. I found the kind of photo cards you insert beautiful family photographs in; I had a dozen photographs done up in black and white to make the World’s Ugliest Family Photograph look even worse and hoped folks who received them would get a good laugh. Lively Holiday Greetings were written on each -ending with ‘This is the Best Family Photograph we could come up with!’
I hate to inflict this awful photograph on you- it actually did evoke a good bit of laughter! So, if you are struggling with all of the Christmas Card, Gift buying and Holiday rush- Inject some laughter into it! I think the new term is to have a Scruffy Christmas!
Unlike all Southern tales- which are part truth, part myth and part outright lies- this one is the whole truth– after all, Santa is keeping that list!
Love y’all, Camellia
* All photographs are from our personal collection, either loaned to Camellia’s Cottage or sadly taken by me- and should not be used without permission.
Several years ago, it was decided that we would have a Fall Gathering …the pumpkins were laid by the door with care, a big dried hydrangea wreath was hung on the door, about two dozen hand painted invitations were sent out with fear and trepidation- too many- too few?
The menu plan was for a heavy laden table with Southern favorites and a few new twists on old standbys. The key word for this Gathering was abundance, but please remember our Southern Mothers believe in small yeast rolls and biscuits– no Cat Head Biscuits here! The Menu would need to be a portable feast, a harvest buffet of regional flavors, with enough food to feed big strapping men, dainty ladies and Sherman’s Army!
The Gathering Menu
Sliced Ham in Millie Ray’s® Rolls with a Spicy Mustard. Fried Chicken Nuggets in fragrant Marshall’s Biscuits® served with pickle slices, Tiny Orange Yeast Rolls thinly iced and laced with Orange Zest alongside Cheddar Cheese Cubes
Low Country Pickled Shrimp, Sweet and Salty Caramelized Bacon, Hot Sausage Balls and Nachitoches Meat Pies
Celery and Carrot Sticks with Fresh Cucumber Rounds. Hot Fresh Spinach Dip. Cheese Straws, Toasted Pecans, Parched Peanuts, Assorted Crackers and Big Apple Shaped Cheese Balls, one in Cheddar, one in Bleu.
Fried Peach Pies, Mimi’s Pound Cake with Strawberries and a Big Glass Bowl filled with Banana Pudding.
Iced Tea, Lemon Slices, Light Beverages, White Wines and Coffee.
For weeks with an enormous amount of help and encouragement from a few friends, decisions were cussed and discussed. Silver was polished and shared, linen napkins were rolled, coolers and freezers were shared, the table layout was made and remade. The decorations were easy, what had been planned for the Thanksgiving table, shown above- would be put to use for the Gathering as well.
What I discovered was this- before all of the big holiday entertaining commences in winter, Fall can be the perfect time to gather friends.
There is one exception- don’t have a gathering during an SEC game or even on weekends for that matter! This gathering was held early on a Wednesday night- from 6-8. Since most of the guests are of a certain age, a weeknight is actually a great time to gather. And even though the house is small- more than 2 dozen guests milled around the cottage. The screen porch was used to great advantage- it is customary in the South for beverages of a certainstrength to be served separately from the main food and beverages. The screen porch was a perfect place for the restorative wines and ales, alongside parched peanuts and cozy shawls
After a work day or a heavy meal, there is nothing more restorative for the St. Simon Peter’s, Our Lady of the Lake, and even the First United’s- than a hot cup of coffee or a restorative nip swirled in a glass with crisp air and good friends. I hope a good time was had by all, we sure enjoyed having a Fall Gathering!
Happy Fall, y’all, Camellia
*Most of the photographs used are mine-the hand painted invitations were done by me- however the pics of the silver tray and silverware were found on AOL images and may be copyrighted. And I would be very remiss if I did not thank Paula and Alyson for making the Gathering a success- there was enough food and the guests were completely delightful!!!l
Millie Ray’s Rolls® are made in Birmingham Alabama! Marshall’s Biscuits® are made in Mobile Alabama !